Bermondsey & Old Southwark

2015 Result:
Conservative: 6051 (11.8%)
Labour: 22146 (43.1%)
Lib Dem: 17657 (34.3%)
Green: 2023 (3.9%)
UKIP: 3254 (6.3%)
TUSC: 142 (0.3%)
Independent: 72 (0.1%)
Others: 79 (0.2%)
MAJORITY: 4489 (8.7%)

Category: Semi-marginal Labour seat

Geography: Greater London. Part of the Southwark council area.

Main population centres: Bermondsey, Borough, Rotherhithe, Elephant & Castle and Surrey Quays.

Profile: This covers central London south of the river, facing the City of London across the Thames. The riverfront has undergone massive redevelopment and gentrification, and is now backed with offices, luxury apartments, the cultural quarter of Tate Modern and the Globe theatre and skyscrapers popping up around City Hall, whose crash helmet style home sits on the riverfront here. The seat also includes Guys Hospital and the fashionable Borough market. Alway from the trendy apartments to the north though, the rest of the area is still poor, racially mixed and struggling with problems of crime and deprivation though the process of regeneration of troubled estates like Heygate is rolling slowly onwards.

Politics: Demographically you would expect this seat to return a Labour MP: a poverty striken inner city seat, over 20% afro-carribean, over 40% of properties council owned. In fact it returned to the Labour party only in 2015, having been the Liberals and Liberal Democrats for over twenty years. Simon Hughes long tenure was probably due to his own performance as MP, but he only became the MP for Bermondsey in the first place because of the unusual circumstances of his election. The Bermondsey by-election must be one of the most infamous in recent political history. The local Labour party had selected as their PPC the left-winger Peter Tatchell, who was disowned by the then Labour leader Michael Foot. He was opposed by a Labour right-winger, John O`Grady, who stood as a "Real Labour" candidate and was backed by the former MP Bob Mellish. The by-election was notoriously dirty, Tatchell was consistently attacked for his sexuality, received hate mail and a bullet in the post. The Liberal party took the seat on an overwhelming swing and remained here for almost a quarter of a century.

Current MP
NEIL COYLE (Labour) Born 1978, Luton. Educated at Hull University. Former policy director. Southwark councillor since 2010. First elected as MP for Bermondsey & Old Southwark in 2015.
Past Results
Con: 7638 (17%)
Lab: 13060 (29%)
LDem: 21590 (48%)
BNP: 1370 (3%)
Oth: 993 (2%)
MAJ: 8530 (19%)
Con: 4752 (13%)
Lab: 12468 (33%)
LDem: 17874 (47%)
GRN: 1137 (3%)
Oth: 1728 (5%)
MAJ: 5406 (14%)
Con: 2800 (8%)
Lab: 11359 (31%)
LDem: 20991 (57%)
GRN: 752 (2%)
Oth: 960 (3%)
MAJ: 9632 (26%)
Con: 2835 (7%)
Lab: 16444 (40%)
LDem: 19831 (49%)
Oth: 1140 (3%)
MAJ: 3387 (8%)

*There were boundary changes after 2005, name changed from Southwark North & Bermondsey

2015 Candidates
JEAN-PAUL FLORU (Conservative) Born 1969, Belgium. Educated at Leuven University. Author. Westminster councillor since 2006. Contested London region 2009 European election.
NEIL COYLE (Labour) Born 1978, Luton. Educated at Hull University. Policy director. Southwark councillor since 2010.
SIMON HUGHES (Liberal Democrat) Born 1951, Cheshire. Educated at Llandaff Cathedral School and Cambridge University. Barrister. Contested London Mayoral election 2004. MP for Bermondsey 1983 by-election to 2015. Environment spokesman 1983-1988, education spokesman 1988-1992, environment spokesman 1992-1994, health spokesman 1994-1997, home affairs spokesman 1997-2003, President of the Liberal Democrats 2004-2008. The second longest serving Liberal Democrat MP, Hughes was first elected to Parliament in the notorious 1983 Bermondsey by-election. Contested the Liberal Democrat leadership elections of 1999 and 2006, during which he was outed by the Sun newspaper.
WILLIAM LAVIN (Green) Born 1956. Contested Huntingdon 1987.
STEVE FREEMAN (Republican Socialist)
DONALD COLE (All People)
LUCY HALL (Independent) Born 1989. Educated at Waldegrave School and Manchester University.
KINGSLEY ABRAMS (TUSC) Former Merton councillor, Lambeth councillor 2006-2013. Contested Wimbledon 1992, North Southwark and Old Bermondsey 2001 for Labour.

Comments - 651 Responses on “Bermondsey & Old Southwark”
  1. “…certainly a stupid self inflicted wound that warrants some disciplinary action…”

    Self-inflicted wound? Oh do get some perspective.

    Coyle’s article = paper cut on little finger
    Election of Jeremy Corbyn (twice) as party leader = loss of entire arm

  2. Simon Hughes has confirmed he’ll stand again here.

  3. Rivers10 – really?

    Lots of Tory MPs have attacked both CCHQ and a Cabinet Member, but it doesn’t warrant disciplinary action.

  4. The beast is back, good prospects for LD gain here for sure.

  5. Will be interesting to see if Hughes can get back in here..

    6.5% swing from Lab to Lib Dem in London since 2015 surely gives him a good chance!

  6. I think Hughes will fall back relative to 2015.

  7. No chance of Hughes winning this seat in June. As I said when Coyle gained it in 2015, it’s now a safe Labour seat for the foreseeable future. Despite the vast amount of luxury apartments/penthouses that have been constructed in this seat over the past 5/6 years (particularly on the banks of the river), this seat contains lots of deprived council estates and a high BME population i.e. the type of seat where a Corbyn-led Labour will hold very comfortably.

  8. Sure, if anybody other than Hughes were standing, I’d agree with you. But surely the same personal vote that kept him in the seat or thirty-two years still applies now? Are memories that short?

    One other thought – the BAME population in this seat are mostly rooted in African and Afro-Caribbean traditions of evangelical Christianity. And the Lib Dems just happen to have an evangelical Christian leader…

  9. The Evening Standard published a poll showing the Lib Dems polling much stronger in London than in the UK as a whole with a significant swing since 2015. The swing was also larger in Inner London which would really put the pressure onto Coyle.

    Hughes majority also has fluctuated at every election (never on a constant upward or downward spiral).

    5K (1983) 3K (1987) 9K (1992) 3K (1997) 9K (2001) 5K (2005) 8K (2010) and -4K (2015)

    There is no reason why his personal vote may no longer exist.

  10. Polltroll – Coyle will have the first time incumbency factor so I don’t think even Hughes’s personal vote will swing it for the Lib Dems. Due to the huge African and Afro-Caribbean immigrant population, there’s a huge evangelical Christian following in this seat (I heard a rumour there are approximately 80 evangelical churches along the whole stretch of the Old Kent Road). However, I suspect most of these African and Afro-Caribbean evangelical Christian voters don’t have a clue who Farron is so his religious views won’t have much of an impact on the outcome of the result here in June.

  11. A freind who lives here says they is plenty of Lib Dem propaganda here and a genreal felling that the Lib Dem’s stand a very good chance – he is a labour supporter.

  12. Christian,

    Re your comment “this seat contains lots of deprived council estates.”

    It always has – and that never stopped Hughes in the past. I think when he first won it nigh on 80% of all housing was local authority.

    If anything, with the redevelopment round Surrey Docks and the increasing number of upscale apartments, the housing in the seat is moving against Labour.

  13. StephenPT- I live a few seats away from here. It has changed considerably since Hughes was first elected in 1983. Yes, the plush new apartments erected around parts of this constituency will help Hughes but this will be countered by the huge surge of immigrants that have resided in this seat (especially from West Africa) over the past decade which will surely help Labour hold this seat.

  14. Fair comment Christian – your position is based on population change rather than types of tenancy.

    The only thing I would question – and I would be interested in your opinion – is whether the new West African voters in this constituency do in fact turn out to vote and if so if their voting pattern is as strongly pro Labour as the established Black Caribbean voters has traditionally been.

    It is a lazy assumption that all BAME voters support Labour to the same degree, and there was some evidence at the last election that this was definitely not the case .

  15. But also working class estates don’t equate to Labour votes like they used to. Their core demographic seems to be as much middle class – professionals and socialists – these days.

  16. Looking at the following I would say it’s – at this point – TCTC.

    Polling is showing virtually no difference between LAB- LD SWITCHERS and LD-LAB switchers nationally – also this was borne out by the only London poll recently on 1Apr. However this London poll gave a big LD figure – 30%. TCTC.

  17. It could depend on any of the Tory votes that have tactically gone LD over time. There’s not much incentive to do that this time so if there’s a decent LD->Con unwind then it will be an easy Lab hold.

  18. I agree with Alex F certainly that’s the impression I’ve had csnvassing

  19. Paul D – I see little difference between Tory/LD tacticals this time around and Lab/LD tacticals in 1997 and 2001 (elsewhere of course). The goal wasn’t to ensure Labour had the upper hand against the Tories – that was already assured, as the reverse appears to be this time. The goal was to ensure they were as irrelevant as possible such that a party with those ideals would be unlikely to return to power even if the current government became unpopular.

    In seats such as this I’m sure a lot of Tory-leaning voters feel the same way about Corbyn.

    For what it’s worth, I think Labour will hold this seat despite the lack of a tactical unwind.

  20. LD. 20000
    *Lab. 19000
    Con. 7000

    LD Gain from Lab

  21. Didn’t the London poll show a 13% swing from Labour to LD? I personally feel it will swing LD this election, after Kingston and Twickenham this is by far their best shot (ahead of Richmond too)

  22. Paul D – that’s true.

    The Tory vote was rising here at each election due to the changing nature of the seat and it looked artificially low in 2015.

    Indeed if Simon Hughes wasn’t standing it could well be almost a three way with the Tories on 25%.

    I suppose it depends how Hughes plays it. The LDs aren’t afraid of putting out the opposite type of leaflets in different parts of a seat after all.

  23. Yes John in the yougov / University of London 22-24March poll showed 13% LAB>LD but also gave 15% LD>LAB. Very similar results in the 3 other recent national polls I’ve looked at.

  24. Yes but there are more Labour voters than Liberal Democrat voters. (15% of 30% is significantly more than 13% of 8%). The polls suggest the Lib Dem’s are making a clear net gain of Labour voters.

  25. One for the anoraks / historians. A moving video with a tearful Bob Mellish in April 82 threatening to resign and force a by election if Peter Tatchell is selected (which he did of course).

    There’s not many here I imagine here that had a vote in that by election. Mellish was very much a local. Deptford born and was chairman of Millwall supporters club for many years.

  26. You’d only have to be aged 53 or older to have had the vote back then, but I agree many will have moved away since.

  27. JAMES…yes that’s true but in a marginal it’s negligible. Arguably it’s negligible nationally.

    But I agree theres a (small) net gain to LD overall.

  28. The London poll in early April showed Labour down 6% and LD up 7% since 2015. ( That is a 6.5% swing BTW, not a 13% one. But it would be enough for the Lib Dems to take the seat.) Tory vote in London was down slightly on 2015. Latest London crossbreaks in YouGov are quite similar ( big errors though).

    On the business of Lab/Lib Dem switchers, James Rodriguez is correct and some others on here are wrong.. there has been a net switch of a few % of all voters from Lab to Lib Dem. There has also been more or less equal switching LD to Con and Con to LD. Beware percentages of percentages! The Lab to LD switching is much greater in London, probably because Labour voters in London are ardent Remainers compared to elsewhere..I suspect there is also net Tory to Lib Dem switching in London, balanced by switching from UKIP to Tory.

    At present it looks like being a good night for the Lib Dems in London but possibly disappointing elsewhere..

  29. Churn is also an important factor. I’ve noticed while canvassing in the last 12 months voters have been quite undecided (genuinely rather than fobbing you off) and many undecideds have returned or gone else where and there is a new group of undecideds. That’s not a direct swing but churn in support.

  30. The Green candidate has been selected, John Tyson, he sounds like quite an entertaining character & should improve the Green performance.

  31. Ladbrokes Odds for here:

    LibDem 4/7
    Labour 5/4

  32. Labour should win it. Supposedly they’re confident, too.

  33. I tend to agree. And to think that for many years, this was the only LD seat in London!

  34. Coyle has reported Hughes to police for a misleading leaflet, but lawyer Hughes insists there has been no breach of election law and Coyle has merely “pressed the panic button” as the LDs are getting such a good response here.

  35. I tend to think Labour will hold on with a slight increase, although it could be a slight reduction.

  36. Given recent polls I don’t think the LDs will come close here.

  37. With the recent Corbyn/Labour bounce I think Labour will have this one. It was touch and go a month or two back.

    Since 2015 yet more new builds have sprung up all around. Newcomers have no attachment to Hughes.

  38. I’m not sure I can see the Lib Dems taking any seats off Labour now.

  39. The only Labour seat I have us down as gaining is Vauxhall. I may end up looking silly on election night but canvas returns look good.

    Hoey is a passionate leaver in the most remain counting area in the UK. The campaign has had a by election feel to it and could spring a surprise.

    Cambridge is the only further possibility but I don’t see that one coming through.

  40. It would certainly be a shock if Hoey lost Vauxhall

  41. I would disagree. Bermondsey is a Lab Lib fight, where both main candidates voted and campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU.

    In Vauxhall the CLP initially disassociated themselves from Kate Hoey in the EU referendum, before recanting and re-selecting her in time for this general election.

    Add to the fact that Hoey is pro fox hunting, pro grammar schools and questions on her opinions regarding abortion still remain, this lady clearly doesn’t represent the views of her constituents. This race has a by election feel.

    Even the Guardian article referred to on the North Norfolk thread constantly cites Vauxhall as an area where we have a chance and the New Statesmen also produced an interesting piece today:

    I could yet be wrong and we could end up falling flat on our faces here. But at the least I am expecting a very sizeable swing to us in Vauxhall.

  42. Agree with James Rodriguez above. With such a warm, friendly pro choice candidate in Vauxhall the Libdems can’t lose

  43. Easy win for LAB here it is being said locally

  44. Not even close

  45. I think this is the end of Simon Hughes’ political career, I’m pleased to say. Amazing given how he had Bermondsey covered in posters and placards, which possibly exaggerated his levels of support. Him going around the local blue market with a boombox in a wheelbarrow playing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” was a low point. His 2015 concession speech showed it was clearly a personal blow – “liberalism has not failed”. It showed a sad sense of entitlement to run again. The yellow taxi might be a little less conspicuous now.

  46. A 1970s documentary about deprivation in this constituency:

    The squalor and arrogant bureacracy is quite an eye opener.

    I imagine the area has been mostly ‘gentrified’ now.

  47. Interesting – thanks, Richard.

    Yes, well gentrified in terms of residents but not necessarily housing. There’s still some tiny council flats just off Southwark Bridge Road and some other larger ex council flats which are now very expensive to buy or rent of course.

    Most cities still have some awful forgotten about housing (eg feel free to look up Cathedral Walk, Lpool on streetmap and there’s also some maisonettes which you hardly see anywhere else today).

  48. Could this be at threat again from the Lib Dems? It had a high remain % in 2016 and Labour voters in South London seem to lack enthusiasm for the semi-remain/semi-leave ambiguous position of the Labour leadership. What I’ve seen of Lib Dem material looks much better than the unimaginative Labour or Tory material. Greens have stood aside here for Lib Dems.

  49. No.

  50. Seems unlikely – Labour is simply not losing enough votes to the Lib Dems in the numbers needed here, Cambridge, Hampstead and Kilburn.

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